Universal Health Care Will Result In Necessary Job Cuts
Whenever there is a debate about universal health care, opponents of such a system often cite medical provider shortages as a concern. They claim increasing access to health care for everyone somehow disadvantages the previously insured. Boohoo.
Once everyone has access to health care forget trying to get a same day or even same week appointment when you contact your doctor, they claim. What was a reality before health care reform, longer wait times than other industrialized nations, is made out to be a “new” safety issue. Opponents of universal health care conveniently ignore the fact that there has always been a waiting list for medical care for everyone but especially those who cannot afford it.
The medical care provider shortage scare tactic is a bogus excuse designed to maintain the status quo and to hide an even bigger concern of health care reform opponents. What health care reform opponents fear more than a medical provider shortage is health care industry workforce changes. When millions were losing their jobs during the Great Recession, the health care industry was adding them at a record pace. And this record growth is projected to continue for years to come. Ironically, a lot of this growth is due to more insured individuals because of the Affordable Care Act.
However, there is increasing concern in the health care industry that what Obamacare giveth, the next step in health care reform, universal health care or single payer, will take away. This type of fear is not unique to the health care industry. Many industries actively oppose changes for the common good in an effort to hold onto “unneeded” jobs. Just ask Senator Mitch McConnell how he feels about the Obama Administration’s recently announced climate change regulations (Clean Power Plan) and their perceived impact on coal jobs that were already declining.
Acknowledging The Job Threat
The primary goal of universal health care is to provide access to medical care to all Americans. However, another goal is to slow and reduce the cost of medical care. This can happen when there is one payer of medical care bills dealing with multiple providers. A universal single payer health care program will have the size and clout needed to negotiate bigger discounts with providers that multiple, smaller insurance companies and individuals do not.
In addition, a universal health care system is likely to include medical care price controls that limit what the health care industry can charge for its products and services. It is this component of universal health care that opponents are most concerned about because capping prices is likely to lead to some health care industry job loss. And it’s not just the health care industry that could lose jobs due to reform. There are many “connected” jobs to the health care industry, including health care industry operations support staff, health insurance workers, brokers, employee benefit consultants, third party administrators, workplace health care IT, human resources employee benefit professionals, etc.
A universal health care system could force these professions to whittle down to the number of jobs that are actually needed.
Think about all the mergers of hospitals and doctors’ practices—do you ever hear about layoffs of the senior managers of these “formerly” separate entities? No. Because even though hospitals merge, most still keep their high-level staff in the same positions. So instead of one CIO you have two whose salary we have to pay in the form of higher health care prices. The same goes for private insurance companies. They may layoff some low paid call center or other administrative staff, but they will keep two chief financial officers. Basically, they keep acting like two separate entities with their own high cost staff.
There is really no getting around the fact that a lot of workers may lose their job under a universal health care system. But that is no reason not to institute one. In fact, universal health care highlights one of the big problems with the current health care system and that is unnecessary duplication of resources that costs the country millions if not billions of dollars. Still, supporters of universal health care have to acknowledge and participate in solutions to the health care job crisis reform may cause.